How To Applique With An Embroidery Machine?

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If you are interested in embroidery and want to learn more, then applique will be a good place to start!

An applique is a form of art generated from embroidery. Applique is a technique that involves a lot of handwork. It involves cutting out pieces of fabric and stitching them to the right location on the item being sewn. This can be used as decoration or just to add color or interest to an otherwise plain design.

As more people want beautiful things but don’t want the hassle of making them, applique takes away some of the difficult work by providing pre-cut shapes that are available in different sizes and textures.

The technique is similar to quilting or paper piercing stitching. The main difference is that in applique, the embellishments are placed on top of the fabric before it is sewn together.

What is Applique?

Applique is a method of working in which the pieces of fabric are made up of smaller parts, which are cut from a larger piece and arranged on an area to create a pattern.

It’s not as extensive as embroidery, but it does require a higher skill level.

Appliques are decorations that are stitched onto clothing, curtains, quilts, and other crafts pieces. Embroidered applique is made by stitching fabric pieces on top of the embroidery hoop. This decorative technique is often used for blouses and skirts with a large area to cover.

An applique can depict an entire scene or a smaller design like flowers or leaves — they can be sewn onto clothes of any style: formal, casual, western-style clothing, or even costumes. Appliqués can be as big as a sari in Indian dress or as small as petals in a flower design.

Embroidered appliques are mainly used for decoration, such as clothing and costumes that are going to be sold in a retail store. These designs are often used in place of more expensive decorations like sequins or pearls, which can add a personal touch. They are also useful for making household items such as bedspreads, curtains, and tablecloths.

Which fabric works best for applique?

To make an applique you need to find a fabric that can be stitched onto your embroidery hoop. You can use any type of fabric like cotton or silk but some fabrics. You can use denim, felt, twill, cotton, minky, lace, and knit fabrics

You can sew applique onto any fabric that has a woven texture like cotton, polyester, or silk. Using woven fabrics can help the applique to stay in place and not spread out. However, when embroidering on silk or polyester, make sure that you use a fabric with strong fibers like cotton or polyester. Another type of fabric that is used for applique is woven satin. Satin can be used because it’s soft and can be stitched very easily on an embroidery hoop. It also gives the applique a nice look because it drapes well.

When using satin as an appliqué fabric, you need to use strong threads which are probably two times stronger than normal threads used in sewing.

Can you make an Applique on a Sewing Machine?

Yes, Applique can be done on either hand sewing or a computerized sewing machine. They use different techniques and have different thread requirements. Most sewing machines have a special function for making applique. Stitching an applique design onto fabric is easy on a sewing machine, but it takes a lot of time and patience to do it by hand, which can be quite challenging for someone who has no previous experience in embroidery work.

You must choose the right type of thread for your embroidery project based on what you’re going to stitch and how much detail you want in your design. If your sewing machine has zigzag and satin stitches then you can create more beautiful designs.

Different Methods of Applique

Machine Applique

Machine applique is a method used to create a design on the fabric without having to cut anything out beforehand. This is done by stitching the pieces of fabric on top of an open stitch area using a walking foot. The patterns are then transferred onto the base or garment piece before they are sewn on.

In this type of applique, any sewing machine can be used. A walking foot is necessary for applying pressure in the right direction when stitching and also for preventing your work from flipping over while you’re stitching. The applique design is transferred via computer onto one of the seam allowances, which are left open during construction, and this area will serve as your base piece or foundation piece.

Hand Applique

Hand applique is a technique used to join pieces of fabric by sewing them together with a needle and thread. This method is not very common in modern times, but it’s still used by some embroiderers to create various types of embroidery. The stitching is done directly onto the fabric rather than onto an embroidery hoop.

Hand appliqué works best for simple shapes like leaves, flowers, and animals that don’t require too much detail, but it’s not recommended for complicated designs which are hard to stitch without getting your hands in the way.

Fused Applique

The fused applique technique is a method of sewing that uses special adhesives to attach fabric pieces. For this method, you will have to fuse the parts before stitching.

In this technique, the pieces of fabric are fused together by applying heat and pressure.

After you have sewn your design onto the garment or material, you need to place another piece of fabric on top and use an iron to press it down. This type of appliqué works best on synthetic materials like polyester or nylon and it’s not recommended for use on silk or cotton because they can shrink when getting fused together.

Styles or Types of Applique

Smooth Edge Applique

With this type of appliqué, the raw edges are hidden by sewing them to the main fabric so they can’t be seen. This technique is much easier compared to the rough edge appliqué and it also looks better in your finished product.

Smooth edge applique is a method of embroidering that hides the raw edges with stitches. After you have sewn your pieces onto your base or garment piece, you need to use a zigzag or decorative stitch to cover all of them up. You can also use a machine to help you with this task, although a sewing machine is not necessary.

Raw Edge Applique

With this type of applique, the raw edges are left to the sides. This technique is not often used because it doesn’t look professional, but a good stitcher can make a very nice looking project using this type of applique.

Reverse Applique

Reverse appliqué is a method of embroidery that attaches two pieces of fabrics together. The fabric on the top is always stitched at the same time as the one on the bottom, therefore you need to use two layers of fabric to work with this technique.

Reverse applique is also called double-sided applique, and it’s usually used for making quilts.

This type of applique can be done by hand or by machine. In machine reverse appliqué, thick fabrics are used from both sides so there’s enough room for stitching through all layers at once, while in hand reverse appliqué only one side can be stitched at a time.

Decorative Applique

Decorative applique is a method of embroidery that creates a design between two pieces of fabric. When sewing with decorative needlework stitches like satin stitch, French knots, and braid, the more detail you add to your design the better it will look in the end.

Decorative applique has many uses, and it can be used for decorating different types of garments or materials. It can also be used to make tablecloths, as well as other household items.

This type of applique is done by hand stitching on a sewing machine or using a computerized embroidery machine.

Multi-Needle Hoop Applique

Multi-needle hoop applique is a type of sewing that uses a hoop to hold the fabric in place while stitching.

Multi-needle hooped embroidery is usually used for making quilts because it makes the quilters job much easier since they don’t have to hand stitch every single piece of fabric onto the base.

It’s also very useful because it accommodates any size of fabric without any problem, so you can work on a project as large as needed without having to worry about finding a way to hold it in place.

The multi-needle hooping technique is done on a machine, usually with six needles.

How to get the perfect size of an Applique Fabric?

Before going into the main process I would like to suggest you to follow these steps to get the best result.

  1. Stitch And Cut

It sounds a little bit strange I know, but it is a good way to get the right size. We have to stitch the fabric on top of the fabric and then cut it to make sure that we have done everything the right way.

Since you have already stitched your design onto the top piece of your fabric, you should use an embroidery hoop or piece of cardboard to hold it in place while stitching.

And do not forget to secure it well while sewing with basting stitches as they are necessary not just for easy removal, but also because they are needed to hold everything together during the cutting process.

  1. Double Stitching

It’s a little bit easier to get the perfect size of your applique fabric if you are using a double stitch technique. It’s not necessary for every single project but it can give you additional stability in the embroidery and help the material to hold its shape better.

The placement stitch is stitched on your base fabric and removed from the hoop. Your applique fabric will be hooped with an embroidery stabilizer before another placement stitch is applied. After you have stitched the applique fabric, cut it out. You will be able to sew it to the base fabric.

  1. Cut to Size before Placement

To get the exact shape of your design, you have to cut the applique fabric so that it fits exactly into your piece of material.

It’s better if you cut the applique pieces with a rotary cutter so that they won’t be damaged when you are trying to place them on your garment. I personally tried this method and found it easy to get the right size because you can clearly see what you are going to make on your base fabric. This method also works well for blanket stitching and raw-edge applique. You can also use embroidery software to print a design and then cut it according to your fabric.

Supplies for Machine Embroidery Applique

Here below is the list of every little thing that you need for applique with an embroidery machine.

  1. Base Fabric
  2. Applique Backing (HeatnBond preferred)
  3. Embroidery Machine (I would suggest Brother SE1900)
  4. Embroidery Stabilizer
  5. Temporary Adhesives
  6. Embroidery Needles
  7. Scissors
  8. Iron
  9. Embroidery Thread
  10. Needle
  11. Marking Pen
  12. Applique Designs

How to applique with an embroidery machine?

Wash the garment that you want to add applique to, and let it dry completely before applying your design. After washing it follow the steps to get your design:

How to Applique with An Embroidery Machine?

Setting Up the Fabric and Machine for Applique

To start off your applique project, you will have to prepare the fabric and your machine so that they will be able to help with the process.

The first thing that you need to do is set up your embroidery hoop and your base fabric. Use a marking pen or chalk to mark the area where you want to applique. I would suggest you use chalk for darker fabrics.

The next step is to adjust your hoop. You should always work with a clean hoop because it’s going to save you time and effort if anything happens during the sewing session. If you hoop your fabric and stabilizer in a proper way then it would help you during the stitching process. I used a tear-away stabilizer for my project and it worked well. You can choose your choice. But make sure that your stabilizer should be 1” inch larger than the hoop size to fix properly.

You should float one layer of water-soluble topping on top of your heavy fabric after hooping it, especially if it is velvet or fur.

You should also make sure that there’s no thread on it at all, as this might interfere with your knitting later on in the process.

To avoid embarrassing mistakes, set up an area where you don’t mind getting some lint or fuzz from your embroidery machine because this might happen while you are working on your project.

Stitching the Placement or Outline Stitch

After you have completed the setup, it’s time to get started with stitching the design. This can be a little bit tricky for beginners and since there are different ways of stitching for different projects, I would suggest that you follow the steps below in order to make your project easier.

As a first step, you should practice with some basic designs so that you can get used to how your machine works. The next step is to place some temporary adhesive on top of your design so that it will stick properly while sewing.

Ensure that there are no air bubbles present at this point because they are going to destroy your project in the long run if they aren’t removed completely. start pressing your press foot down onto the fabric.

I found it best to sew with the sewing speed of 1, but you can also stitch with a faster speed if you feel that it works better for you.

After you have finished your first line of stitching and feel confident about your process, you can continue with stitching other pieces on top of each other as there is no need to worry about lining up every single piece.

Getting the Applique fabric ready

As a side note, cut a piece of fabric that is two to three times as large as the stitched design. Afterward, attach your applique fabric to its backing. You can also use a heat bond gun to apply the adhesive to your applique fabric. I used this and got a great piece for my shirt.

First of all, you need to remove the temporary adhesive with a slightly damp cloth and then press down the release sheet on top of the applique. If you feel the fabric will slip during stitching then use adhesive spray or iron it if you already cut the piece of your backing.

Create the Tacking Stitch

The next step is to create the tacking stitch. This is very simple and a lot easier than it sounds. I have seen many people stitching their applique and they weren’t sure how to do this step properly. The tacking stitch is going to help the embroidery fabric stay in place while you are sewing on it, which can be done in another way.

To start off, stitch a few machine stitches (3-5) of the lightest color thread on your applique fabric so that it will be visible once you start sewing.

Now that your stitching is done, press your machine foot down onto your base fabric and then lift your presser foot back up (so that the little catch piece will pop).

Putting the Border Stitch Together

After your tacking stitch is done, you are going to start with the border stitching. To do this, start from the edge of your base fabric and sew along the outermost edge of your cut applique fabric.

After completing this step, perform a few more small stitches (2-4) in a light thread and lock them down with a few more small stitches of a darker color thread.

Clip the tacking stitch away from the side of the fabric by taking your hoop out of the machine and using sharp embroidery scissors, or even double-curved embroidery scissors. If you feel that the edge of your stitching is too thin, you can use a rotary cutter to even it out.

Finishing Touches 

Now that you are done with the stitching process, it is time to remove your hoop and press your project gently.

For a better look, use an iron to get rid of any wrinkles and make sure that you don’t get too much heat from the iron on the fabric otherwise you will lose the color from it.

Remove extra backing from your fabric and trim jump stitches for the clean and fine look of the project.

After your piece is pressed properly, turn it over as there might be some glue on top of your applique fabric. If you find some glue traces on it then you can remove them by using a damp cloth.

How to Applique on a Quilt?

I personally use applique on quilts because I love the way it looks. It’s a fun finishing touch that makes the quilt really go from plain to WOW! And, it can be used as an accent color in a patchwork quilt or for applique on a baby/toddler quilt. The possibilities are endless.

The steps to applique on a quilt are simple and similar to conventional quilting. You can even create your own design using my Pattern Shop and Quilt Sampler Patterns.

  1. Find your desired pattern and print it out onto fabric. We’re going to use a simple heart or any other design here.
  2. Trace the design onto the fabric with a fabric pen or pencil. It will be helpful to place a piece of paper underneath the design to give it some structure. Try not to pull on the fabric as you trace, or you’ll distort the shape.
  3. Pin your pattern (with paper underneath) onto your quilt top and stitch. 
  4. Sew along the outline of all four sides of your design with a straight stitch on my sewing machine.
  5. Carefully cut away the excess fabric in between the stitching. Then, carefully move on to the next part.
  6. There are many possible things you can do to embellish your design. Here I added white thread puffs around each one and around the outside edge of the design with a straight stitch on my sewing machine.
  7. Fold under about 1/4″ of your quilt binding and whipstitch it onto your blank quilt. That way, when you quilt it all together, you’ll have a nice edge right there!

Sometimes applique is not necessary. This can be true when adding simple color or texture to cloth that’s being used as a baby item, quilt binding, or patchwork. Adding some color can be as simple as using the sewing machine foot with a zigzag stitch. Putting your foot on the pressure foot control, reduce your stitch length to 0 and width to 2 or 4 (depending on the weight of your fabric), and start stitching.

It’s really that easy. Of course, you may want to add a few puffs of white thread in between each stitch to give it some texture. The last alternative would be to add a fadeaway of white thread on the needle. Then simply stitch around the design. This method works great with a fussy cut or decorative stitch applique design.

Sewing Machine Applique or Embroidery Machine Applique

Embroidery is the best and perfect way to add a design to your clothes. If you are a beginner, you can start with the traditional method of sewing clothes. If you have an experience with sewing, this method will definitely be an easier task for you. I hope you will have a better understanding of the process if you are a beginner.

The embroidery will allow you more control over the design and the effect of having that extra layer of fabric. But not everyone has an embroidery machine at home. Don’t be too discouraged if this is your first introduction to applique. You may just have to decide which method works for you and do some experimenting with both options until you find what works best for your own projects.

FAQ about Applique with an Embroidery Machine

How to make applique fonts?

Many embroiderers use a variety of methods to create their applique letters, but we should keep in mind that this is the most complex part of it all. The best way to get a better and more consistent result is to use a font of your own. Get the design of your font on paper, print it and attach this to fabric and start stitching. Follow the same discussed pattern to get the result.

What is the best method to do applique?

I was always confused about the best way to do it, but I eventually found the most simple and effective method – using a hoop and cutting the size before placement. Because it gives you a clear view of the design and if you find any mistake then you can adjust before getting into the process.

How is applique different from embroidery?

Applique is a combination of embroidery and sewing that involves creating patterns and adding them to another fabric. However, applique can also be done by hand and is used in many DIY projects.

Can I do applique on my Brother embroidery machine?

In general, most Brother embroidery machines come with a variety of basic stitches, and advanced stitches to add a bit more detail to your projects. Brother embroidery machines come with the latest technologies and advanced designs that can be used for applique. Brother SE1900 and Brother SE600 are the best considerable choices to create your applique project.

Can stabilizer work well in applique?

A Stabilizer is a thin fabric used to add stability to the fabric while working and can be one of the best options to keep your fabric in place while working on it. you can use a stabilizer on your applique project. Before starting, cut out a piece that is 1 inch bigger than your design around the edges and spray it with spray adhesive on both sides before attaching it to your fabric. attach it to the fabric and start stitching your fabric. It will give you great support during your project to keep the fabric stuck in place.

How Do You Prepare Fabric For Machine Applique?

You just need to know how to do this. First, wash and dry the fabric. Next, gently iron the fabric away from the designs you want on your project. peel the fabric away from the ironing board and attach it to your project.
Now, with a needle in your machine, press the foot pedal. Slowly start to sew over your project – lift the presser foot and remove the needle when you are done. Turn it around and do the other side. 
Gently touch up any mistakes or needle holes before sewing on your project or while working with smaller pieces of fabric. If you are using a zigzag stitch, use a light touch since they can catch easily.

Final Thoughts

More and more crafters are taking up applique as an option when creating a unique design. No matter which method you choose, the important fact is that you learn how to do it properly so you can be proud of your work in the end. Applique can be used for fashion, home decorating, and more. 

Appliqued designs are unique, and beautiful and can be applied in a variety of ways to bring out the personality of your project. You can use these techniques for home décor, handbags, and clothing, but if you are passionate about creating something of your own then using these techniques will give you a great start.


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  8. Reddit – First time doing appliqué with my embroidery machine…



I have been working as a seamstress since I was 12 years old, and I would be happy to teach you what I know. I, along with the rest of my team, investigate numerous sewing, quilting, embroidery, and fabric related how-to guides, and present our findings to you.

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